aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

In Favor of Caution

Posted by Ellen on November 11, 2007

On a trip I took last week for association business, I toted along printouts of the chats and presentation slides from the ASAE and The Center’s recent online eLearning conference.  I highlighted comments until the green in my Bic Brite Liner went pale — comments about where to start with elearning, how to get buy-in from the “older members,” how to estimate budgeting, and other issues I generally categorize as “strategy.”

At the same time, I saw questions about what wikis are and how blogs can be used for learning (I’ll own up to that one), curiosity about Second Life and Facebook….

Sitting “in the back of the room” and “passing notes” (thank you, ASAE and The Center, for keeping the ability to send private messages available, and thank you, fellow participants for keeping the dialogue going even when the public chat seemed quiet — you know who you are), I confessed that I’m a “geek wannabe” — probably anyone immersed in elearning is a bona fide geek, a closet geek, or a wannabe.  I share with others that terrific curiosity about the latest social networking options.

But I’m in favor of caution, too.  I’m in favor of making sure the cart is behind the horse, that I don’t end up doing the very thing that frustrates me sometimes about my association leadership — that desire to jump into something and “just do it.”

Shouldn’t we be looking at our overall educational strategy, and the elearning strategy within it, first?  Decide how SL or del.icio.us fits? How we can leverage the options the best possible way?

Won’t doing that help us get the buy-in we so desperately need? 

Won’t sorting through the options to align them with our needs, initiatives, programs, and services validate for us the investment of our time and resources? Help us anticipate what each will need in the long term to maintain (how many of us have worked hard to get something underway, only to find out there’s no one willing to keep it going, and it dies away?)?

So I’m in favor of caution — and in favor of a strategy that is breathable and flexible enough to guide us to the answers we need to adapt with enthusiasm the options that are out there, and to use them in a way that is effective and maintainable.

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